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Lesedi Benjamin Phehla.
In memory of deceased student leader and activist, Benjamin Phehla, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Lourens van Staden, yesterday, 27 October 2016, announced the Memorial Lesedi Benjamin Phehla Scholarship. 

“The Scholarship that will be named after him, is to immortalise his contribution to TUT. I am pleased to announce that the University Management has resolved that the Scholarship will be issued to an academically deserving and financially needy student at the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) starting from 2017,” Prof van Staden said in his eulogy to Benjamin.

Benjamin, a final year Information and Communication Technology student at the Soshanguve Campus, met with his untimely death during this period of student protests around the country fighting for a fee-free, quality and decolonised higher education. Other students were injured in the incident involving a vehicle that crashed into a group of students. He passed away during the night of Thursday, 20 October 2016. Earlier on the same day, the Council of the University held a special meeting at which they resolved that no TUT student will experience a fee adjustment in 2017. Benjamin’s fight for social justice was not in vain.

Paying respect to the family and giving tribute to Benjamin, Prof van Staden said: “As a University we are really sad and sorry that your son had to depart from this world under our care. We are aware that you had your hopes on him that he will finish his studies and help to improve the life of the family. Some of the vision that he had for his family when he finished his studies have been shared with us. You raised a good and humble son who appreciated his background and was intent on improving it.”

Prof van Staden added that the University can never take away the pain of the family’s loss. “As a University, we will assist you as best as we can while you go through this period of grief,” he added.

“Benjamin was not just a student but a student activist and leader, who at the same time, oozed energy and maintained humility and respect. He has been described by those who knew him well as an epitome of servant leadership. He not only represented students in meetings but was also seen monitoring queues of students applying for registration and the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and ensuring that they had the correct information and documentation at all times. Indeed, we have lost a selfless leader, who (had he lived) was going to exemplify the true nature of leadership in our country,” Prof van Staden concluded.

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